Ministry Burnout Can’t Be Ignored

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Being a pastor has been one of the highlights of my life. When I graduated from high school I attended a state university and studied history because I wanted to be a history teacher and a football coach. Toward the end of my first year, I knew God was calling me into full-time vocational ministry, and so I walked away from the field and walked toward the pulpit.

I have never regretted that decision.

Ministry is such a fulfilling career if you are called to be in it and you are operating out of the skill sets God has given you. Unfortunately, in my 20 years of ministry, I have seen a large number of ministry leaders get swallowed up by the machine of ministry rather than flourishing in their calling.

As wonderful as the ministry can be, it can also be brutal, cruel, and in some extreme cases, detrimental to the ministry leaders health, physical well-being, and family relationships. I know ministry can be difficult and comes with plenty of challenges, but I refuse to believe that Jesus ever intended ministry leaders to serve themselves into depression, moral compromise, and family destruction.

This is why one of the primary goals at Modern Inklings is to support ministry leaders like you by equipping with tools to work more efficiently so you can focus on nurturing your relationships with your family, friends, and faith community. We want ministry leaders to live in the abundance of life God intended for all of us while advancing his Kingdom.

One of the ways we support ministry leaders is by monitoring their workload to help them avoid burnout. So, today, I wanted to give you…

Four Practices to Avoid Ministry Burnout

  1. Practice Self-Care First: ministry is demanding and we have bought into the idea that serving others means we sacrifice ourselves. Even Jesus pulled away to care for himself at times. When you take the time to take care of yourself, you are serving your faith community, your family and your friends because you are positioning yourself to provide them with your best.
  2. Nurture Colleague Relationships: too many ministry leaders serve in isolation. They only spend time with people they are either trying to reach out to or they are responsible for. Many ministry leaders do not have colleagues who can be neutral sounding boards for ideas, challenges, and victories. Without colleagues, there is no one to really sound the alarm when the warning signs of burnout appear. Colleagues can be the lifeblood of a ministry leader’s overall health.
  3. Build a Wealth of Leaders and Volunteers: I know, this one is a no-brainer. Most ministry leaders I talk to are quick to let me know one of their biggest issues is that they do not have enough volunteers. My response is two-sided…first, begin to evaluate ministries and their effectiveness and cut the ones that aren’t adding value. This will cut down the need for volunteers. Second, create a pipeline of training that will move people from salvation to the highest levels of leadership through strategic intentionality. (5 Steps to a Ministry of Multiplication)
  4. Create Functional Systems and Processes: Are you sitting on a plateau and you are trying everything you can think of to push past the next benchmark? In my experience, what is usually holding churches back from overcoming their growth benchmarks, or creating overwhelming chaos in the midst of their growth, are their systems. Systems and processes are not the part of ministry leadership most of us look forward to spending our time on, but they are vital and can greatly decrease our levels of stress, the demands on our time, and our concern details are going to be missed. In the world of automation, system development has never been easier. (Check out our toolbox of systems we use).

Ministry burnout is not the last chapter any ministry leader wants to have. We have to take it upon ourselves to make sure our last chapter is filled with satisfaction, fulfillment, and joy, and we can do that by implementing these four practices.

What other practices can you think of that help keep away burnout? Leave them in the comments below and help us serve ministry leaders just like you better.

*** This post is from a mini-course I offer on how the 5 Steps to a Ministry of Multiplication. If you would like to walk through the quick email course, let me know by clicking on the course title above and I will begin to walk you through the process of becoming a Ministry of Multiplication.

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